Ed Jew drops another attorney

Suspended Supervisor Ed Jew has dropped his second attorney in just more than two months and will now be represented by one lawyer in several cases pending against him regarding his residency and alleged attempt to extort money from city businesses.

Attorney Stuart Hanlon said this morning that he, Jew and Jew’s former attorney Steven Gruel conferred recently and a decision was made that Gruel would step down and allow Hanlon to handle each case, given Hanlon’s experience in state and federal law.

“Ed came to the conclusion that it’s better to have one lawyer doing everything,” said Hanlon. “It was not a knock on Steve Gruel,” he added.

Hanlon had been representing Jew in only the criminal case in San Francisco Superior Court, alleging Jew made false statements regarding his residency in the Sunset District in official nomination papers he submitted before his election in November 2006.

In that case, Jew is facing nine felony counts of perjury, election code violations, voter fraud and providing false documents related to his residence.

Jew, 47, a Chinatown flower shop owner, is alleged to have maintained his primary residence at his Burlingame home rather than a house he owned at 2450 28th Ave. in San Francisco.

Gruel had been representing Jew in the civil lawsuit brought by San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera, also on the residency charge, and on a misconduct charge with the city’s Ethics Commission, both seeking Jew’s removal as supervisor.

Mayor Gavin Newsom initiated the ethics case and temporarily suspended Jew in late September, replacing him with Carmen Chu as interim District 4 supervisor.

In addition, Gruel had been representing Jew in a federal criminal case accusing Jew of mail fraud, bribery and extortion in connection with an alleged scheme to solicit $84,000 from tapioca drink store operators seeking city permits.

Gruel could not immediately be reached for comment this morning.

Jew’s former attorney Bill Fazio stepped down in October, citing “irreconcilable differences” and saying that communication between he and Jew had broken down.

Hanlon said all four cases are now “going to proceed in an orderly way.” He indicated that he would like to resolve the civil cases before the criminal cases, but would probably have to ask for a continuance of an Ethics Commission hearing scheduled for early January.

A hearing in Jew’s federal criminal case is scheduled for Jan. 18, and in the state criminal case Feb. 5, according to Hanlon.

Hanlon said today that all options, including plea agreements, are still “being explored.”

“Anything’s possible,” he said.

“My experience with him … he’s certainly not a difficult client,” Hanlon said. “He listens, he’s intelligent and he takes advice.”

Hanlon said the charges have taken a toll on Jew personally, having to cope with immense legal fees and the realization that whatever the outcome of his cases, he would never again be able to run for political office, he said.

“Ed Jew is a pretty simple guy,” Hanlon said. “It has been incredibly traumatic for him and his family.”

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